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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

‘24:’ Episode 15, 10-11 p.m.

click to enlarge FILL 'ER UP: This mug ain't for coffee.
  • FILL 'ER UP: This mug ain't for coffee.

We left off last week down one U.S. senator, one paid assassin, and a whole lotta Jack's cred. This week, Larry Moss was on site at Sen. Mayer’s house, "investigating" the politico's murder and playing effortlessly into the bad guys' hands. Moss truly is this season's answer to the blindly bureaucratic impediment to progress (formerly held by such brown-nosers as  Miles Papazian (Stephen Spinella) in previous seasons). Jack brings Tony up to speed on evildoers and bio-weapons and whatnot via cell, while Moss unleashes the sass on Chief of Staff Ethan Kanin, telling him he advised against allowing Jack to interrogate Burnett a second time. Ethan takes a second, takes a seat and takes his resignation to President Taylor. As Ethan justifies his resignation to the president, he explains his complicity in Bauer's alleged killing spree. The president responds with, "It doesn't make any sense!"

Hello??!!! Anyone listening? At least one of season seven's one-dimensional characters was drawn with a slightly thicker Sharpie. Does this mean that they call off the hounds? Not so much.

This week's heart-to-heart transpires between Ethan and Allison (aka President Taylor). She meets his heartfelt resignation with teary-eyed denial, "You're a great woman Allison, and you have great things left to do." Ultimately her reputation wins out over personal loyalties and Ethan signs off, but not before he gives props to Olivia for not selling him out. Oh wait. About that. Turns out Olivia's take on her advisory roll is a little bit e-harmony, a lot political sabotage. After pulling strings to keep Burnett's death under raps, Olivia leaks news of Mayer's death and Ethan's and Jack's alleged involvements to Broadcast Ken in time for the 11 o'clock news.  And what does Ken want in return for being Olivia's journalistic pawn? How about unlimited salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden sometime next week? Wednesday work? Pick you up around 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, Jack and Tony hold America's fragile future in their bloodstained hands, again. (What I really want to know is when does Jack eat? Seriously. We're 15 hours in to this and the man hasn't even had a snack. Someone toss the guy a granola bar!) The hoarse duo head to the port to sniff out any anomalies in the shipping logs. Turns out Carl the security guard is trying to stash some cash for the wife and the twins they have on they way by aiding and abetting Starkwood's muscle, only he's under the impression that they're smuggling some illegal Asian electronics or DVDs or something.

Tony and Jack put two and two together quickly enough, but not before an army of homegrown terrorists is at the Port Authority gate waiting to be buzzed in. Jack sends Carl out the let the men in with a sigh-heavy promise that he's "got his back." Soon enough the bio-terror goons toss Carl in the truck. Jack mutters a trademark "damn it" under his breath, to which Tony replies, "Forget about it Jack. He was dead the minute he stepped out the door." Promises just aren't worth what they used to be these days.

Speaking of putting two and two together, ole Larry "Einstein" Moss uses his finely tuned powers of deduction to determine that there were actually three people at the scene of the crime. Something about unexplained slugs (bullet casings, I presume) and broken French doors. He dials up Renee and actually has the balls to say, "Maybe I should've trusted you before, but you have to trust me now." She comes clean about Quinn and Starkwood, and Moss repays her by leaving her in holding. (Renee to self, "I can't believe I ever slept with that bastard!")

Back at the Port Authority, Jack takes a gamble, saving one man's life (Carl's) at the risk of thousands. Tony to Jack in a cliche flip that actually kind of works: "Jack! Don't break your own rules!" Damn it, Tony! Don't you know that Jack doesn't "play by the rules?" That includes his own! Tony and Jack engage the bad guys in a firefight, and Jack makes a getaway with the bio-weapon, but not before Tony's taken hostage. As could be expected Jack almost rendez-vouses with the FBI, but the bio-weapon's been compromised, damn it, and Jack has to fix the breach. He does as much, but only in time for Starkwood to recapture the goods. Damn it.

Hour 10-11 p.m. flew by tonight. The past few episodes have embraced the kind of fast-paced murderous espionage that got me hooked in the early seasons. I still think season seven's biggest flaw is the absence of decent drama from the characters' personal lives (save the nobodies at the FBI and the President and the First Gentleman - but who cares about them anyway.) In not so distant seasons, we had Tony drinking bourbon out of a Cubs mug, his and Michelle's relationship torn to pieces. Jack needs a romantic relationship, or at least some sort of familial tie, to make him feel human as opposed to a "rogue" killing machine. He managed without the help of a female foil to break out of that rut slightly tonight when he saved Carl's life. It'll be interesting to see if and how Jack evolves as a result. If he comes out of this season a more compelling character sans romantic entanglement, it'll be a true coup for the writers, and reason enough to continue watching into next season.

Next week: Jack gets nakey and hosed down in the street; the President needs someone she can trust; and we have "the results on Mr. Bauer's bloodwork." Plus, I want more Chloe and Morris!

(Photo courtesy Fox)

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